Signals 19

Apr 3, 00:35 by IROSF
Comment below!
Apr 3, 13:55 by Suzette Haden Elgin
"The pioneering women in SF went through a great deal, some of it overt and some of it subtle. No one has written the definitive history of this part of the genre and someone should."

For this, I'd like to recommend the two-volume work -- Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy -- edited by Robin Anne Reid, just out from Greenwood Press. It does a spectacularly good job of writing that history.
Apr 3, 14:36 by Vin Miskell
Thanks for reminding us all how important context and a historical perspective are to our understanding.

Your article also reminded me of Michael Shermer's comment (in WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS) about how Columbus's "theory that he was in Asia" influenced all his observations--and those of his crew. All sorts of "Asian" plants were "discovered" in the New World as confirmation of his theory.

Naturally, those with limited experience cannot help but be "shocked and awed" by sudden and drastic changes. And so, they resort to hyperbole.

BTW, I finished reading DUPLICATE EFFORT last week. Thanks for continuing such a fascinating world. Do you have another Retrieval Artist novel in the works (or at least in mind)?

Vincent Miskell

Apr 3, 17:48 by Philip Kaldon
Good lord, someone was worried about female Senate pages in 1977? My high school Class of '76 was the first one that allowed women to apply to the service academies -- and my high school had women going on to West Point and the Coast Guard Academy. Good enough for the military but not good enough for the Senate? As much as things have changed, I have to keep reminding myself that we are always the products of the times we've grown up in -- and that we don't always see the biases around us.

Thanks for an excellent reality check article.

Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon
Apr 3, 18:20 by Athena Andreadis
Setting aside the opinions of the younger generation, whose members lack the necessary perspective, those of the earlier generation seem to also think that there still is a gender imbalance in SF, though less in fantasy. Specifically, Ursula Le Guin came to this conclusion (and related others, regarding how "whitebread" SF/F still is) in The Wave in the Mind.

Why do you think your opinion differs from hers? Is this a bit of "I walked to school barefoot, you should count your blessings"? There is no question, of course, that things have improved. But have they improved to the point where we should rest on our laurels?

Athena Andreadis
To Seek Out New Life
Starship Reckless
Apr 4, 19:46 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Great news. I hadn't heard of the Reid book. I'll pick it up.
Apr 4, 19:51 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Vin, yes, another RA book is in mind. I'm doing a series of novellas right now to prepare for it. The first was in Analog in Jan/Feb, I'll be posting on my website when the next novel happens. Dunno any dates yet.

Thanks for the comments, Philip. Much appreciated.

Athena, I read the LeGuin, which came out a number of years ago now. I see no discrimination against women in sf/f any more. None.

In the world, in the U.S. in particular, there is still a great deal of discrimination against women. Check out what happened to Hillary in the campaign or yesterday's bro-ha-ha over Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni. The sexist press expected some kind of cat fight between two marvelous, professional women. Huh?

So yes, in the world it's still there. But sf/f? No. And I think as the younger generations get older and are in charge, things'll change even more. It's not a reflex for anyone under 30 to think in discriminatory gender ways. imho.

Kris, who can't seem to spell this morning.
Apr 5, 04:59 by Athena Andreadis
Le Guin also counted the proportion of women that received prestigious literary awards across genres, from Nobels to Hugos. I believe these ratios haven't changed much.

I agree with you about Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. Women are still far from achieving parity, if power and allocation of resources are calculated. Also, there was a significant backlash in the US during the eighties and nineties. However, the discrimination in the US pales in front of countries that have sharia law.

Starship Reckless
Apr 6, 03:08 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Ursula completely ignores the romance genre, written mostly by women for women. It's the largest of all publishing genres. Her statistics only take into account awards. So? I count readers/writers/publishing professionals.

Women dominate publishing. We write the most books. Women dominate the editing positions. Women have an equal number of publishing positions to men. Women read most of the books published.

These statistics have existed for years. In fact, Romance Writers of America publishes an update of all of them each and every year on its website, and they're only one organization to do so.

It truly irritates me that women who cry discrimination in sf ignore the bulk of women's publishing--romance and women's fiction. While it is true that fewer women write pure genre sf, more sf is being written by women every day. Check out romance writer Linnea Sinclair, for just one example.

And yes, discrimination against women in the rest of the world is damn terrifying. Since I am a woman, I'm happy to be an American woman living in the 21st century. Things are pretty darn good for us, considering what's happening in other parts of the world.
Apr 6, 14:46 by Janice Dawley
Kristine: First, the question came about because a couple of editors had produced anthologies in the same year with few or no female names on the table of contents. One of the editors defended himself on the site, by stating he had invited women into his anthology, but the women either missed the deadline or bowed out at the last minute, forcing him to go to writers of his acquaintance who worked quickly and weren't already invited into the anthology. As a result, he produced the accidental womanless TOC.

So, the editor in question solicited material from some women authors that he didn't personally know, and when their submissions didn't come through, he fell back on his personal connections to get the project done. The question that immediately occurs to me is, "Why were all his personal connections men?" That may sound like a very prying question, but when an editor's social milieu so clearly affects who gets published in an anthology, it seems like a fair one.

Things have certainly changed since the 1970s, but just because the really obvious sexism isn't happening (except for, oh, a breast grab here and there from a prominent man in the field at a major awards ceremony) doesn't mean it is no longer a factor. It's even possible that older people have *their* perspective skewed by their earlier experiences of blatant discrimination; maybe they can't see the finer gradations and details as well as younger people who haven't gone through that trauma. (Just a hypothetical; I don't really believe age has that much to do with it.)

It truly irritates me that women who cry discrimination in sf ignore the bulk of women's publishing--romance and women's fiction.

But what if you like SF and not romance? This is like saying, "Can't get your apple? Well, here's an orange! Now shut up about apples!"
Apr 6, 16:28 by Blue Tyson
Janice, a very simple answer. The majority of short story writers are male. Those are the only connections that matter, in that case. Not who runs the shop across the road.

In the case of science fiction, it is 'large majority of'.
Apr 6, 17:16 by Athena Andreadis
It truly irritates me that women who cry discrimination in sf ignore the bulk of women's publishing--romance and women's fiction.


like you, I wish that many issues (debates on abortion, on evolution, on whether women are fully human) would get settled so that we could move on to more interesting and creative matters.

The trouble with gender is that the goalposts keep moving. Whenever women scale one barrier, they find themselves in front of another moat. The current darling of "futurists" (with several sf writers/prophet wannabees prominently among them) is that evolutionary biology "proves" that it's natural for women to be dominated, even to postulation of - I kid you not - rape genes. This permeates transhumanism and its fiction sibling, cyberpunk, and has concrete repercussions in society at large, let alone publishing.

Along the lines of Janice's response, I must point out that saying that women dominate the romance genre is like saying that women dominate kindergarten teaching. Numbers don't matter if they're not associated with power or prestige -- after all, peasants always vastly outnumbered their overlords.

I'm aware that you write in several genres, including romance. There is nothing that should make romance inherently less valuable and valued than any other form of literature. But it is devalued, as is everything done predominantly by and for women (a sad fact across cultures: each defines women's roles quite differently, but whatever is defined as "feminine" is devalued by both genders; I can give you a plethora of examples). Also, countless studies have demonstrated the stubborn persistence of unconscious bias -- two examples are the sudden surge of women brass players in orchestras after they instituted the custom of auditioning behind a screen, or a similar surge of women students in Ivy League colleges after they instituted blind admissions.

All this may make me sound humorless, angry, dated -- in short, unhip. Yet I see this drama unfolding daily in the domains I frequent, from science to forums of ostensibly progressive organizations. I also see how rigid stances shortchange both genders, and how such issues divide people who would otherwise be natural allies and even friends, as in this forum. And it seems to me that speculative literature is still too whitebread and bizarrely conservative, when by definition it should break new ground.

So I don't wish to irritate you or devalue your experience or expertise. But we're not there yet, not by a long shot, and we cannot afford to forget.
Apr 6, 19:57 by Janice Dawley
Blue Tyson: Janice, a very simple answer. The majority of short story writers are male. Those are the only connections that matter, in that case.

How could it be that simple? Are you really trying to say that people's friends are determined simply by population percentages and not by things they have in common, referrals, etc? That the editor in question didn't have a single female short story writer that he could call on in a pinch because there simply aren't enough women in the field for him to know any?
Apr 17, 17:55 by margo jane
Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy -- edited by Robin Anne Reid,

is just out and costs 200 $?

Who is going to read it, I wonder?
Jun 14, 08:09 by
That is really nice to hear about that

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Jan 17, 09:17 by
I enjoyed the article-and incidentally, also enjoyed Space Magic, which I reviewed for The Fix a couple of years ago.

There's certainly a lot here about uses of the future, and the pitfalls that go into extrapolation (though I have to admit there's a case to be made for the glass-half-full side of that discussion, which I wish was made more often).

Incidentally, as to the predictions you make, I definitely see the economic collapse scenarios making a comeback, much like we saw in so much of '80s cyberpunk. I think the fragmentation theme's been around quite a bit already-but it might derive an extra dimension not from the "Net Generation," but the "iGeneration" as it's called in this piece in H+ Magazine.

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